(Washington, DC) – As the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard resumes full-scale operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) – a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee – led the New Hampshire and Maine congressional delegations in a letter to U.S. Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite inquiring what steps and protocols are in place to safeguard the health and safety of the Shipyard workforce as it returns to full strength. The letter was also signed by U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME), and Representatives Annie Kuster (NH-02), Chris Pappas (NH-01), Chellie Pingree (ME-01) and Jared Golden (ME-02).
The delegations wrote, “We recognize the important work of our shipyard employees in maintaining the readiness of our fast attack submarine fleet, and we appreciate the communication we have received from shipyard leadership. However, we urge the Navy to continue to strike the right balance between maximizing the productivity of the workforce while minimizing the risk associated with the COVID-19 health emergency, especially for those at highest risk.”
The lawmakers continued, “As you may know, PNSY developed a four-phased approach in order to return the workforce to full strength. The first phase began on June 1, 2020, and was set to align with guidance put forth by the State of Maine. We understand that employees with higher risk of severe illness began returning to the shipyard on June 29th. As the transition to full strength begins, we would appreciate a response to the following questions so that we may better understand the processes in place to ensure the safety of the workforce.”
The New Hampshire and Maine delegations included a series of questions that address metrics being used by the Navy, social distance practices that will remain in effect, updates on positive COVID cases and other areas of concern to ensure the well-being of all workers.
The letter can be read in full here.